The investment will fund a program to sequence the genome of 400,000 Irish people and establish an international life sciences center in Ireland.
The program will be undertaken by Genomics Medicine Ireland (GMI), a company founded in 2015 to study the genetics of Irish people for medical research applications. As part of the initiative, GMI will become a subsidiary of WuXi NextCODE, an international company that studies population genomics in Europe, the US and Asia.
The funding is expected to create 600 high-skilled jobs in the next 5 years. GMI will first receive €200M to start a whole genome sequencing program that hopes to recruit 400,000 volunteers, which accounts for 10% of the Irish population. It will allow GMI to scale up its research to over 60 disease areas, which is expected to contribute to the development of new treatments.
The company will then receive up to €350M ($400M) in milestones to continue expanding and to create an International Centre for Advanced Life Sciences in Dublin.
Since the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, many countries have launched initiatives to sequence and study the genome of its inhabitants — including Australia, the US, the UK, France and Estonia among others.
The Irish program, which is 4 times larger than the UK’s famous 100,000 Genomes Project, is funded through investments from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund along with several international life science investors.
According to the companies involved in the new program, Ireland is a particularly good location to run a genomics program given that the genetics of the Irish is quite homogenous, the population is large enough to find enough people to study rare diseases, and they have a good track record of participating in research programs.
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